The two routes that the buses will service, 29 and 79, had previously operated with trackless trolleys until 2002. At that point the trolleys were over 20 years old and had to be taken out of operation, Richard Burnfield, SEPTA’s deputy general Manager told Philly Mag.
“Thanks to these grants, more transit riders around the country will be able to enjoy the latest in bus technology, resulting in cleaner air and lower costs in the long run,” FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers said in a statement. “By supporting American manufacturing and local workers, FTA’s Low-No grants exemplify Secretary Foxx’s commitment to building Ladders of Opportunity.”
The FTA awarded the FY 2015 funds after a competitive review process that compiled transit agencies and bus manufacturers with strong records in operating clean buses and infrastructure. The buses will not be wired and will instead recharge at stations at the end of their routes that will take only 10 minutes according to Erik Johanson, SEPTA’s Director of Business Innovation.
Johanson and Burnield told Philly Mag that SEPTA is the first in the country to have an energy-efficient mass transit system of this scale.